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January 14, 2022
Our team sat down virtually with our friends over at Ecksand to talk about sustainable fashion and jewellery. We're big fans of this Canadian brand for their commitment to responsible and conscious jewellery. Ecksand creates fine-end conscious jewellery made for a lifetime. Talking with their Co-Founder and Creative Director, Erica Bianchini, we discuss how to get started as conscious consumers, learning about Ecksand's design and production process, how to incorporate sustainable practices as a business owners, and much more. Join us in conversation below:
Ever since I can remember, I gravitated toward goods that were more enduring and exceptional story tellers. Fast forward to my early twenties, when looking for a jewelry gift for my sister’s sweet 16, I couldn’t find high-quality jewelry with the values and value I was looking for. What I mean by that is, nothing I was seeing was made with the quality standards I believed was necessary. I noticed a lot of waste in the crafting and middlemen process, and, in the end, I was noticing that for the prices, I really wasn’t getting the quality that made sense to me. If I couldn’t find what I wanted out there, it meant others were faced with the same yearning for something that dared to be different. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) had versed himself in the world of noble materials sourcing, so we paired up to start Ecksand.
Having spent a lot of time in nature as a child with a deep sense of our impact and the goal of making it positive, I knew I wanted our jewels to be sustainable from the beginning. I jotted down a few points that I still abide by today: Make it last forever so it never ends up in a landfill, use recycled materials as much as possible, eliminate the bad traces and maximize the good.
It’s amazing to see so many companies are also starting to offer recycled materials. But one big element we forget is that a jewel which is crafted to be high-quality can sustain against time. Durability and longevity is important to us, now that’s sustainable. In our context at Ecksand, that has meant pretty awesome pricing right from the beginning so that high-end craftsmanship could be achievable, and more people could make the sustainable choice they wanted to without compromise.
No matter what we create, we always use recycled gold and platinum, as well as ethical diamonds and gemstones. There’s never a question about that. But at Ecksand, we don’t just think about sustainability in terms of the materials we use. For us, it’s also about quality and timelessness, because if a piece is made to stand the test of time, it’s one less thing in the landfill.
So, when I’m designing new pieces, I’m always keeping in mind timelessness. As a team, we’re always thinking about our pieces being passed on for generations and generations, never going out of style and never wearing out. For that to happen, our jewels need to be everlasting in terms of design and quality.
And, of course, I always keep our core values in mind when designing: always ethical, always sustainable, unparalleled pricing and lifetime-wear quality.
One of the main challenges we faced at the beginning was educating clients. When we first started Ecksand in 2010, there wasn’t much talk about “sustainable jewelry” and “recycled gold”. So that was a big challenge in the beginning: getting people to understand the effects of typical jewelry production on the environment and how Ecksand was different.
Raising capital also required some innovative thinking as there were major raised eyebrows. Setting out to build a brand that would be fully vertically integrated was a great idea to us as we would be able to control quality and costs, but it required intensive logistic planning and seed money. We entered a few entrepreneurship competitions and connected with those that saw a need for Ecksand.
Our collections all stem from one word: quality. They're symbolic and tell a story, but they are also unintentionally graceful. There is nothing more beautiful to me than the accidental elegance discovered in nature. Mother Nature does not intend for such beauty and yet it is everywhere. That's where Ecksand jewelry shines. It's effortless and timelessly graceful. The stories that are part of each jewel carry that level of purpose and energy as well. For example, we designed our iconic Duel collection with the goal of evoking the sensation of challenge in all of us. The collection is inspired by the sport of Fencing and the sharp edges and clean lines of each piece symbolize the sword and shield. Our Blossom collection is inspired by the emerging blooms seen in spring, while our Iceberg collection draws inspiration from the gold and snowy wilderness of Northern Canada.
I’m also very inspired by the idea of heirlooms. As a mentioned earlier, I want every piece of Ecksand jewelry to be something that can be passed down. This makes its way into the core of every Ecksand jewel. I think of them all like trends that last forever.
The first tip I have is to start small. You don’t have to get rid of all the clothing you already have and replace it. Quite the opposite. The best way to be sustainable when it comes to wardrobes is to buy less! Find ways to use what you already have in your closet and don’t buy a new piece for every event you have.
The second tip I have is to do your research. There are so many great sustainable brands out there. When you do have to buy a new item of clothing, do some research, see what materials they use, what their processes are like, etc. This is where sites like Shopwise are so useful because you have a curated list of sustainable brands all in one place.
For me, a better fashion industry is one that isn’t overly trendy and doesn’t encourage shopping new wardrobes for every season. I also appreciate brands who are open and transparent about the way they do things and the materials they use. I’ve been seeing this more and more with brands and I think the industry is on the right track with that.
___Thanks for a wonderful chat and sharing more insights of the story and ethos of Ecksand!
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